Rep. Danny Morgan’s boost to local employers stalled

A bill that would have promoted local businesses in the bidding process for state contracts stalled when it was denied a hearing on the House floor before the March 17 legislative deadline.

 House Bill 1974, by state Rep. Danny Morgan, sought to give Oklahoma businesses a 3-percent preference to goods and services manufactured or produced in the state if the price, fitness, availability and quality are otherwise equal.

 Rep. Morgan expressed disappointment, saying there is consensus that taxes paid to the state by Oklahomans should be in-kind funneled back into the local economy to benefit in-state businesses rather than other states’ businesses or foreign entities.

 “House Bill 1974 was intended to complement the ‘tie-breaker’ bill we passed last year,” Rep. Morgan, a Prague Democrat, said. “The ‘tie-breaker’ bill gave preference to an Oklahoma-based company if its bid was for the same amount as an out-of-state bid. This new bill would have elevated an Oklahoma-based company just a bit more in the process.”

 According to a press release from legislative staff, which was sent to CapitolBeatOK, “currently 25 states have percentage preference laws in which they favor local, in-state businesses in various trades (i.e. construction, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, recycled products, printing, all-terrain vehicles, etc). The amount these other states currently give to their local businesses range from 5%-15% preference in bids.”

 Morgan concluded, “Our state is struggling to recover from several years of budget shortfalls, and ideas to drive economic development are crucial. This was one idea in which dollars we already had in play could be directed, if the price, fitness, availability and quality were otherwise equal, to local businesses. I am disappointed it was denied a hearing in the House of Representatives, but I will not give up on this idea or others that will help our local businesses and the overall economic wellbeing of our state.”